The Ultimate Sensory Bin List

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One of my favorite things to make up for the kids has always been sensory bins.  There is nothing like some hands on fun and a mess to make a kid happy, right?!  Now I love them even more because they actually keep my one year old entertained if he is awake while we are doing school work.  I decided it would be fun to compile a list of sensory bin items.  This is just a base list and I usually add things to the bin, some of those things are mentioned below.

Check out this list of the ultimate sensory bin materials. Sensory bins are fun for so many ages and they learn so much from them.

I usually make up a few sensory bins to go along with our theme for homeschool.  How many depends on what we are learning about.  Right now we are studying six different habitats so I have six different sensory bins right now, one for each habitat. 6 Different Habitat Sensory Bins I store them in these 2.7 qt containers with the snap closed lids.  They are the perfect size and they stack together nicely.  Plus, the kids can easily open and close them back up.  I also keep a 5 qt container filled with different sensory bin tools along with a small cake pan, some cookie sheets and a sturdy board.  With some of the messier bins, we dump the stuff into the large 5 qt container before they start playing and then dump it back to store it.  I know sensory play can be messy, but I’m okay with that.  Most of the time I leave it out for free play and they play with it when they want to.  Every so often {usually when I have water beads in it} I have to put it up and take it out when I’m willing to supervise a little more closely.  I’ll be sharing the list of tools we use hopefully later this week.  Now – onto the list of fun things to make a mess with!


  • Shredded paper
  • Lentils
  • Dry beans
  • Aquarium rocks
  • Perler beads
  • Birdseed
  • Parakeet food – we used this for our forest floor because of the variety of colors
  • Cheerios
  • Coins
  • Cotton Balls
  • Cornmeal
  • Corn
  • Coffee Beans
  • Coffee Grounds
  • Sawdust
  • Wine Corks
  • Cut Up Straws – we use colored ones and my one year old loves to stick them through the strainer
  • Epsom Salt
  • Feathers
  • Flour
  • Foam Letters or Numbers
  • Gems
  • Hay
  • Sunflower Seeds
  • Pumpkin Seeds
  • Beach Sand
  • Snow
  • Fake Snow
  • Popsicle Sticks
  • Seashells
  • Cardboard Tubes {this works only in larger sensory tables but it’s fun with small things they can put through them}
  • Tinsel {Clearly only for crazy people, I hate this stuff}
  • Water Beads – these are always a #1 favorite.  They are so much fun, seriously, like therapy.  But those buggers bounce so you can’t sweep them up.
  • Washers
  • Cut Up Yarn
  • Zippers
  • Letter Beads
  • Pinecones
  • Acorns
  • Golf Tees – this is another favorite.  My boys especially love to use a hammer and pound the golf tees into a styrofoam block.
  • Glass Rocks
  • Water
  • Plastic Eggs
  • Shaving Cream
  • Hair Gel
  • Jelly Beans
  • Puzzle Pieces
  • Leaves
  • Loom Bands {I also love to put these in a sensory tube of water for my one year old to play with}
  • Legos
  • Marbles
  • Nuts and Bolts
  • Oats
  • Pasta – I love to color it for fun.  We have some fun red, white and blue penne noodles.  We had a ton of fun with our nature inspired sensory bin.
  • Pom Pom Balls – these are great to use with tongs for small motor skills
  • Packing Peanuts
  • Popcorn Seeds
  • Quinoa
  • Rice – we color this A LOT.  Check out our apple orchard.
  • Rocks
  • Ribbon
  • Raffia
  • Sand
  • Soil
  • Grass
  • Styrofoam shapes – my kids love these with toothpicks to make all sorts of things, we usually get balls and they make snowmen with some added felt
  • Cooked spaghetti noodles – gross – I can’t stand to touch the stuff but the kids LOVE it
  • Caps / Covers – I have a variety of different caps, covers and lids from things we have drank or ate or whatever else
  • Buttons
  • Play dough

I love mixing up the sensory bins.  It’s easy to focus on one color or make them holiday themed.  Simple switch up the color of rice you have or use only Christmas colored buttons.  The possibilities are endless and so is the fun.  As I write about how we have used some things, I’ll try to remember to come back and link to them.


What are your favorite sensory bin must haves?  Let me know what I left off the list so I can add it in.

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